tv For the Record With Greta MSNBC May 18, 2017 3:00pm-4:01pm PDT
wedding. that escalated quickly. that's all tonight. we'll be back tomorrow with more mtp daily. hopefully more funny pictures of senators hanging out in workout clothes. i'm katie tur. "for the record" starts right now with greta. >> i watch you every day. president trump tweeting the word witch hunt and later boldly stating, no collusion with russia, speaking for the very first time about the comey memo and his one on one meeting with the now fired fbi director, the president denying any wrongdoing in the russia investigation. >> did you at any time urge former fbi director james comey in any way, shape or form to close or to back down the investigation into michael flynn? and also, as you look back -- >> no, no. next question. >> next question. as you look back over the past six months or year, have you had any recollection where you've
wondered if anything you have done has been something that might be worthy of criminal charges in these investigations or impeachment as some on the left are implying? >> i think it's totally ridiculous. everybody thinks so. and again, we have to get back to working our country properly so that we can take care of the problems that we have. director comey was very unpopular with most people. i actually thought when i made that decision, and i also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the deputy attorney general rod rosenstein. but when i made that decision, i actually thought that it would be a bipartisan decision because you look at all of the people on the democratic side, not only the republican si, that were saying such terrible things about director comey. then he had the very poor performance on wednesday. that was a poor, poor performance. so poor, in fact, that i believe -- and you'd have to ask him because i don't like to speak for other people, but i believe that's why the deputy
attorney general went out and wrote his very, very strong letter. >> president trump flat out saying no collusion and denying the contents of reports about james comey's memo. but regardless of the denial, this investigation is intensifying. it is special counsel mueller's first day on the job, but already president trump making it clear he is not a fan. >> i respect the move, but the entire this c entire thing has been a witch hunt. there has been no collusion certainly between myself and my campaign, but i can always speak for myself and the russians, zero. i think it divides the country. i think we have a very divided country because of that and many other things. so, i can tell you that we want to bring this great country of ours together, john, and i will also say very strongly we've had tremendous success. believe me, there's no collusion. russia is fine. but whether it's russia or
anybody else, my total priority, believe me, is the united states of america. >> the president repeating what he told a group of us in private earlier today at the white house, that a special counsel, quote, hurts our country terribly. meanwhile, while we were at the white use, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein who appointed that new special counsel, bob mueller, going behind closed doors briefing senators today on capitol hill. here's what some said after. >> he is someone who is widely respected for his professionalism. he's going to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. of that i have no doubt. >> mueller is widely respected. he's smart. he's principled. >> the president may not have liked this decision. it was made. i had questions about it. i honor it. he couldn't have picked a better man to do the job. >> they couldn't have anybody better. it does not mean that congress should now say, okay, our job is done, we don't have to investigate this. we really do. >> with me john mclauchlin is
former acting director for the ci aerks. good evening, sir. >> greta. >> i suppose anybody who is subject to an investigation thinks it's a witch hunt. >> that's typical washington reaction. in fact, this is not a witch hunt. this is a search for facts. and i think in the case of president trump, he's not had a great relationship with the facts. so, i think it may look like a witch hunt to him, but it's really a search for facts. >> how do we speed this up? sort of drip, drip, drip, we've got fbi, the capitol hill, d.o.j., we have everybody involved in it and yet every day it's drip, drip, drip? >> i think it is important to get to some bottom line here because as the public becomes more aware of this, i think their confusion about what is going on in washington is going to deepen. so, it's time really for some very articulate public figure to tell the public what is going on, what they should worry about and what they don't have to worry about and kind of calm things down. i think it's going to take awhile.
as i remember investigations like the one that bob mueller is beginning, you pull on one thread and it opens up another. so, i think that part of it could take awhile and it's all the more important, then, that the parallel investigations in the senate, for example, where it seems to be going reasonably well, that that proceed as quickly as possible. >> it seems almost like -- it's great fodder for the media. i mean, because every day we get breaking news, usually happens about this time, which is fascinating for us. but, you know, there is so much of it, i pickup news articles, it says associates of, there's a lot of sort of anonymous reporting. there's a lot of leaks. and i go back to like, you know, who is talking? is it this chilly relationship that the president supposedly has with the intelligence community? is that what's sort of fueling some of these leaks? >> well, we don't know ever what's fueling leaks, to tell you the truth. i'm always skeptical when people say it might be the intelligence community for a whole variety of reasons. but i think we're at a time when
there is enough discontent and concern about the way the government is working that someone, i notice a lot of these anonymous sources are serving officials. it's unusual. i've had reporters tell me, it's unusual for so many people to be coming out of the woodwork. i doubt, frankly, that many of them are intelligence officers, but i think -- one of the ironies here to me, i've seen, worked for seven presidents. they all have been hard working, intense, focused, disciplined. it pains me to say this, but i don't see those qualities in president trump. and i think a lot of his troubles here are self-inflicted. and i think that is why we are seeing this explosion of drip, drip, drip. >> are those -- >> we've not seen this ever before. >> those self-inflicted wounds, are they putting us in jeopardy? that's a fundamental question because that makes a big difference.
>> if we could shrug this off and say it's another controversy in washington, that would be one thing. but i don't think we can. i think it puts us in jeopardy on two scores. first, i think the work of congress, legislative work that needs to get done in the interest of the american people is being paralyzed by a lot of this because of the obsession with it. and second, just from my own contacts with people overseas and foreigners, international people who come through washington, i know that this is affecting the credibility of the united states around the world. not just the apparent passage of intelligence information to the russians that shouldn't have been passed. leave that aside for the moment. the impression of chaos in washington. and importantly, here is a very important point. the president of the united states has to have moral authority around the world when he or she speaks, people have to believe them. and our president has not yet established that believability that's key to the moral
authority that the president has to have. >> what do you think putin is getting out of this, if anything? >> well, i think -- i'm quite convinced that putin finds this all satisfying, regardless of the outcome. even if it is established -- and we have to keep our minds open -- that there was no collusion between the president -- >> there was meddling. i'm pretty sure on that. >> let's assume the worst is not established. putin still has the satisfaction of seeing our government very wobbly, very confused, very chaotic, and he can point to our system here as having as many problems, he can portray it this way, as his system has which is, of course, to his advantage given that he sits on top of a lot of smart russians who don't have very good governance, and who can look around the world and say, things could be better here. the worst he makes us look, the better it is for him domestically. >> sir, thank you for joining us. >> a pleasure.
>> with me michael crowly, senior foreign affairs correspondent with politico. ruth editor for the washington post. ruth, it's no secret that the president, he doesn't like the idea of a special counsel in this instance. but tell me, what's the big picture impact on this? >> the big picture impact is that it just takes everything up a further notch. it was inevitable and it was necessary. certainly, after he fired jim comey, it was a good choice in bob mueller. it's going -- the president's description of this as a witch hunt, as john mclauchlin just said, is really disturbing choice of words. it's not a witch hunt. the agents and investigators of the fbi who have concluded that there is reason to investigate here, there is a crimil investigation, that is not bad for america. it is good for america to have these processes working, and
that the president can't see that. no white house should welcome an investigation or criminal investigation or a special counsel, but this is our system working and that's good for america. it might be bad for trump, but good for america. >> michael, you've got today where the president blasted out that tweet of witch hunt he's accused president obama and former secretary of state clinton of illegal acts. and the reports he has spoken to flynn since he fired him or since flynn resigned. >> yeah, it's unbelievable that he's still in touch with flynn. and you would like to think that that would stop now that there is already talk in the air of obstruction of justice in relation to the comments that he allegedly made to fbi director jim comey where he essentially said, can you let this go, can you let flynn off the hook. there is a way to interpret the language. there is plausible interpretation of walking up to the line of obstruction of
justice. given this investigation is broadening and we now have special prosecutor coming in, lindsey graham said today after a briefing on capitol hill, his understanding was that this is actually now a criminal investigation. trump should stop talking to someone like flynn who is clearly a target, a witness deeply involved. he just has this deep loyalty to the man, it seems. greta, you've asked me before on this show why trump would have made him his national security advisor when there were already allegations about flynn during the campaign. barack obama urged trump not to give michael flynn that sensitive top national security job. flynn essentially admitted that he had been paid by russian television. there is just some bond between the guy, the two men which trump just -- is giving trump no end of trouble and which he can't seem to let go of. so, look, and as far as talking about hillary clinton, he's going to do this until the last
day of this investigation and probably beyond. i thought that the way he talked today in his press conference, the way he always talks about his relationship with russia, really unsatisfying. he just says no collusion, but he won't go on to try to dispel any of the concerns that people have. he doesn't address the issues, really makes you want to ask more questions. >> and, ruth, is the other thing he said, too, flynn from all reports is under -- grand jury is looking into him, subpoenaing some documents from people who are associates. the president is talking to him. it's not like they have this long-term relationship. they're not like, you know, childhood friends. this is relatively new relationship. and yet the president still has some connection to him. i don't know. i don't think he's sending a tweet off tonight or a note off to comey tonight after firing him and saying something like stay strong. he's got something going with flynn. i can't figure it out. what's your thought? why are they so close? >> well, michael said that there was this bond. that's one explanation. another explanation could be
something much more sinister and disturbing. we don't know. look, if one of your clients, greta, had sent off a note like that, you would be sitting on top of him and saying, cut it out, are you kidding? because the prosecutors on the other side, if this were an organized crime case and you've got one person saying, stay strong to another, you know that they're going to be using that against him. if it's not malicious, if it's kind of good friendship, it's incredibly unwise how the white house counsel is allowing him to do it is beyond belief. he needs his own lawyer at this point. and if it is not simply kind of somehow he's got this loyalty to michael flynn that he doesn't seem to have demonstrated to anybody else, all the various people he's fired in the course of his career and the course of his campaign, if it's something worse, then it's even worse than unwise. >> michael, it seems like he's taking the whole bait of this. using witch hunt, tweeting that.
if i were advising him, if he would listen to me, i'd say, look, you're about to embark on a huge international trip. you're going to saudi arabia, you're going to israel. these are very important things, yet he takes the bait and gets drawn into this narrative rather than parking it and saying, let it be investigated, i'll cooperate fully. instead he gets drawn into it. >> you're right, greta. and, you know, for a lot of this presidency, he's flung out these kind of wild accusations which have infuriated people for instance when he accused barack obama of wiretapping him in trump tower. some people said it's actually a brilliant strategy because he changed the subject. he doesn't care if it's true or not, the media is chasing it. you're not talking any more about what you were talking about yesterday, the whole question about unmasking and all that stuff came out of that. now we're in the realm of legal jeopardy. it's not just a political game. it's not just the narrative we lk about in washington. as you said, gra, i think ruth also, this is an issue where
lawyers now and fbi investigators and bob mummer el are going to be on any word that comes across the twitter account and text message. he can't be the theatrical tv star trump show man and try to make this go away. >> i'm going to take the last word on it. i think his base still is right there with him strong. every time i say anything about the president that they find unflattering or that for some reason they don't like it, even if it happens to be factually correct, they misinterpret it, whatever, boy, they're all over me like a wet suit. so, i think his base is still passionate. >> true. >> and he did get democratly elected. we are learning there are trump campaign and officials, how many times, what were the reasons for those contacts? we talk to the journalist who broke that story tonight. what happened to former director james comey offered to testify publicly is that now off the
table? the latest coming up. plus reports the white house is under siege and staffers said to be writing their resumes, new resumes to send out to possible new jobs. possible changes coming in the press briefings. what do all these reports tell us about the state of mind in the west wing? stay with us. wer to turn this enemy into an ally? microsoft and its partners are using smart traps to capture mosquitoes and sequence their pieces of dna in every sample. with t microsoft cloud, we can analyze the data faster than ever before. if we can detect new viruses before they spread, we may someday prevent outbreaks before they begin. this and it's also a story about people. and while we make more e-commerce deliveries to homes than anyone else in the country we never forget... that your business is our business. the united states postal service. priority: you
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did you at any time urge former fbi director james comey in any way, shape or form to close or to back down the investigation into michael flynn? and also as you look back -- >> no, no. xt question. >> president trump earlier today completely shooting down that bomb shell report that in a memo former fbi director james comey said that the president asked him to shut down the investigation into michael flynn. and today the drip-drip-drip news about michael flynn has turned into a flood. it's a flurry of reports about flynn's work in the white house and why he was hired in the
first place. nbc news also reporting today flynn and former trump campaign manager paul manafort are key figures in the russia probe. the "the new york times" with the scoop that the trump transition team knew flynn was under investigation before, yes, before flynn came to the white house and got that all-important job of national security advisor to the president. and late today the white house said that story is, quote, flat wrong. and there's more grim news for flynn tonight. mcclatchy reporting that flynn while being paid by turkey and while working on the transition team, vetoed a military plan that turkey wanted shut down. and there is more. reuters with the exclusive that the trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with russian officials and people with close ties to the kremlin. among the people who made those 18 contacts, michael flynn. but today there is some good news for flynn or at least positive news. yahoo! news reporting last month after he was fired, flynn told associates he got a message from president trump and that
message, stay strong. and finally, this stunner. the daily beast reporting michael flynn was reluctant to take the national security advisor job, but president trump talked him io it. now, all of a sudden a flurry of news on michael flynn, is a coincidence? with me the report behind two of those exclusives, and nbc news intelligence and national security reporter. ken, first to you. so, manafort and flynn, are they targets of grand jury, are they the only two, and is there any other discussion about anybody else? >> greta, we are reporting that they are subjects of the investigation, which is not -- it doesn't mean target. it's -- target means you're about to be indicted. subject is you are under investigation and you may be suspected of crime. there are others in the cross hairs, but these are names featured prominently now because so much of their conduct is already public. interestingly what we know about
mike flynn's conduct is not directly related to colluding with russia and hacking and interference campaign, it's about other activity. it is about his lobbying for turkey which he did not disclose during the campaign and was forced to register afterwards. it's about this trip that he took in 2015 to moscow and he was paid under $45,000 contract, he was supposed to report that and ask permission from the military. he did not do so. so, if you're looking at how the fbi likes to conduct these investigations, if they're looking for leverage over mike flynn to tell what he knows about potential collusion with russia, this looks like the kind of leverage that they've got. and the other thing that's really important today is this reporting on flynn's actions regarding an issue very dear to turkey. the obama administration had recommended arming the syrian kurds to fightisis. the turks did not want to do that. this was december right before the trump administration was to take office and they asked flynn's permission to go forward with this plan. and flynn vetoed it. he blocked it. this is nbc news has confirmed
this story. eventually this plan has now gone forward under the trump administration in flynn's absence. our sources are telling us this set back the fight against isis, delayed it. why flynn did that, we don't know. he was paid more than half a million dollar by the turkish government durk the campaign, greta. >> and that turkey didn't want it to happen. >> exactly. >> jonathan, you're reporting that the trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with russia. when you say the trump campaign, who do you mean? >> associates and aides surrounding then candidate trump. and these 18 contacts were actually before the election. we also reported that there were more contacts between retired general flynn and the russian ambassador to the united states after the election as well. >> all right. now, i've talked to jeremy bash and other people and say after the election it would not be so unusual for someone who might be national security advisor to begin making contact with the
russian government, depending what that contact is. the contact before the election, though, what kind of contacts were they? in moscow, do you want to be a drink? do we know the content of these contacts? >> we know the rough content. let's break those 18 contacts down. it is our understanding that they comprised both texts, e-mails and telephone calls. six of them, two that involved the russian ambassador to the united states, we know one of the people who was in contact before the election in those calls was retired general mike flynn. we know that those 18 contacts, broadly speaking, involved discussions of potential cooperation against the islamic state in syria. sorry? >> was anything wrong with that contact? >> no. >> that one is okay, yeah. >> u.s./russian -- resetting u.s./russian economic relations which would have been hurt
seriously by sanctions that were imposed on russia and individuals there by the obama administration. >> that's in a gray area. that has potential for being a problem if you're trying to get a deal to get the sanctions reduced. that's a potential problem, right? >> the third subject we're told was talk about can we cooperate in containing china, which was a bit of a stunner because we hadn't heard that before. but the contacts after the election, we are told, focused on the possibility of setting up a direct back channel between russian president vladimir putin and president trump that could have circumvented the u.s. national security establishment. now, let's not forget that president trump had major beeves with that establishment and so does russia. >> so, that might be bad management. the only way, again, ken help me out with this. the problem is if, i assume, if flynn was doing something to meddle with the election, get
some sort of sinister help from, hypothetical, from russia to meddle with our election, that would be in the category of deep trouble. if he were doing some sort of sneaky business thing having to do with sanctions like making a promise, i'll get the sanctions reduced in exchange -- that would be a problem. so, i mean, some of these conversations i assume are conversations that are not objectionable. is that what you're hearing from the intelligence community? >> that's right, greta. it's p context that might make them objectionable. russia had just mounted a covert operation to hurt hillary clinton and benefit donald trump. they brought forth fake news. and the question is did anybody in the trump campaign collude with that. if they did, then these meetings look much more sinister. if it's just mike flynn trying to talk to the russians about the foreign policy it's much less sinister, greta. >> what would worry me if i were flynn's lawyer is if he were interviewed by the fbi, this is after he apparently
misrepresented maybe lied to vice-president pence. if you misstate things or lie to the fbi, you get a false statement, that's a hefty felony and he's been interviewed. but that's just me being a former criminal defense lawyer and not wanting my client to talk to anybody in the fbi. but anyway, thank you, gentlemen. >> thank you, greta. >> still ahead, will new special counsel robert mueller ask to interview president trump? that's coming up. but first, why some republicans think a special counsel is not enough for a russian investigation. does congress need to do more? republican congressman adam kinzinger joins us. i count on my dell small business advisor
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well, i respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt, and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but i can always speak for myself and the russians, zero. >> president trump saying the russia probe is a witch hunt, but he does add that he respects the appointment of a special counsel in the russia probe. among other republicans, a mixed
reaction to the appointment, some applauding the move, others on the fence and some even critical. >> we're glad that former fbi director mueller is addressing the criminal side of it, but we still need a select committee, in my view, to review all of the actions the russians have taken and what we need to do in response. >> i don't know that i would have necessarily done that. i mean, i have not seen evidence of actual collusion. and, so, it does beg the question why did they need a special prosecutor. what are they actually trying to prosecute? >> i think it really does have the possibility of hampering what the senate intelligence committee is going to be doing. >> with me republican congressman from the great state of illinois. adam kinzinger also member of the house foreign affairs committee. good evening, sir. just to clear the dust, the president says he thinks it's a witch hunt. do you agree with the president or not? >> no, i don't think so. i don't see it as a witch hunt. i think the american people have real questions and they deserve
real answers. and i actually yesterday morning called for this before it was announced because i think this thing has gotten too partisan. every new piece of information that comes out, some immediately yell for impeachment, some immediately say it's fake news, and i've come to realize that basically everything is now put through a partisan lens instead of just getting to answers. and for the sake of our institution and our democracy, we need people to have faith on how this comes out ultimately. and i think this is the right way to go. >> is this enough? is special counsel enough, or do you want more? >> i think it's enough. i mean, there will probably still be some investigating in the house and senate. there are some questions about do they have a role or not going forward. i don't know the answer to that. but this is robert mueller taking all the sources together. i think he's going to be very calm and focused, understanding, though, it can't take too long, but it needs to be very thorough. i think when it's all over and he puts out his report or his recommendations, people will feel -- you'll have some on both des that will questioanyway
just based on partisan ship. i think the vast majority of americans will feel justice has been served wharf the outcome is. >> i know what people are saying inside the bubble of washington but back home in your home district, what kind of calls is your office getting, what are you seeing when you go home, what are you hearing? >> people are upset. if i'm talking to people that lean republican, they think this is a witch hunt against the president. if i talk to people who lean democratic, they think we're letting the president off the hook for some very real stuff. what i've noticed in the last seven years, more so in the last year, is it's become hyper partisan. that's part of what brought me to my realization we have to take this out of political hands and put it in the hands of an independent person, is because of that, because we need to now be able to look forward and do the right thing and give people the faith in him. >> if you could question either flynn or comey but only one, which one would you want to question and what do you want to ask? >> i'd like to question mr. comey. i want to know what happened in
the oval office. i'd love to know, you know, are there any -- is there any corroborating evidence to whatever this -- we haven't seen the memo, but to this memo, why didn't he turn it over immediately? was he working on something else? i think if he comes before congress, we're going to get a lot of information and i hope that happens soon. >> all right. and what turned to news in syria, u.s. strikes a militia that was threatening u.s.-backed forces. what happened? >> well, look, there is an exclusion zone. it's a protected area to keep forces from conflicting. it appears that this militia group cked by iran was trying to, in essence, do some forward recon or flank an area. they were warned multiple times, this was the multiple time they had done this in various days. we flew a show of force, some f-16 aircraft flies low to send a clear message they're doing the wrong thing. they didn't turn around, they got struck. i think it was the right thing to do. exclusion zones are there for a
reason. and frankly, it sends a very strong message to iran, too. so, this is a good move, but i don't think this shows any massive change in what's going on in syria right now. >> so we're not having huge success, or huge failure. how do you characterize it? because there is so much attention in washington all the important things going on in syria and iraq get lost in the shuffle. >> yeah, it really is. and it's sad because this is -- syria is a human tragedy. there are tragedies all over the place. we have the unique capability to bring allies together to fix it. the strike itself was probably a success. syria itself is a massive failure and were half a million dead syrians, i fear it's only going to get worse without the international community making some serious decisions here. >> congressman, thank you for joining us, sir. >> any time. thanks. >> day one for special counsel, robert mueller's russia probe, will he ask to interview president trump and must the president agree or is this optional? how does special counsel impact other investigations?
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probe? will he make an interview to interview president trump? we've seen things like that before. this is president bill clinton testifying in 1998 about monica lieu inski before a federal grand jury part of an investigation led by independent counsel ken starr. does mueller's appointment mean former fbi director jim comames not testify in public? >> i'd still like to have director comey testify before the senate intelligence committee as soon as possible, before we go out for the recess next week. >> paul butler is former federal prosecutor now professor at george down law school. and jeffrey, professor at the george washington university school of law. welcome both of you, gentlemen. paul, first to you. do you expect that president trump will testify and he'll be asked by mueller, and will he be testifying under oath or would this be sort of a casual interview? >> i think it will be more of an
interview. technically he can be subenaed because he's a president of the united states. i think he's likely to be requested to come in for a nice little chat. and here there's different advice he gets from his personal lawyer which he should absolutely get. now, the president of the united states needs a defense attorney. and his political advisors. personal lawyer is going to say, i don't want you going in there. political advisors are going to say, you're the president, you have to talk. >> jeffrey, if i were -- if i'm thinking about president trump, i think the people who really have to worry tonight are paul manafort and michael flynn, at least from all reports. if i were the president i'd say, look, it's a big campaign. i don't even know -- i don't know what you're talking about in terms of who had contact, who meddled, who didn't meddle. he may sort of have some deniability just by virtue of the fact being far away from the campaign. >> well, one of the charges to the new special prosecutor is to determine whether or not there was any obstruction of justice
in connection with the russia investigation. and, therefore, the question of whether the president fired comey to obstruct the investigation or whether he asked comey to close down the investigation of flynn is definitely within the special prosecutor's purview. so, as paul butler properly says, he could be asked about that. and if the director decided to open up inquiry into trump's obstruction of justice in particular, there could be a grand jury. trump could plead the fifth amendment, he could try to plead executive privilege, although the supreme court rejected that in the nixon case. so, as paul butler says, a personal criminal lawyer would def dhitly be a great thing to hire right now. >> actually, paul is right. i had momentarily forgotten about the firing of comey, whether that was in some way how that -- whether or not that was an effort to shut down the investigation or not. which would certainly, if it were, would certainly be grounds for a political remedy whether the capitol hill wants to seek
impeachment, assuming that. if that were the motive. >> what a move by rod rosenstein. rosenstein gets played by trump. trump takes advantage of his good name. where does rosenstein go to get back his good name? he goes to robert mueller, a man of utmost integrity. i don't know if that was intended as pay back, but, man, it's bad news for president trump. greta, you know whether you're innocent or guilty, the last thing you want is a special prosecutor looking at you, trying to see if there is a case against you. if he wants to make a case, almost always he can. >> and, jeffrey, the manner in which rosenstein did it, it was text book by the rules. as far as we know, he made the decision, he made it himself, which he has the authority to do as deputy a.g. because the attorney general has recused himself. and he made the announcement -- he made the appointment, then he notified the white house. it looks like he's doing everything just like he should. >> he is indeed.
he's very sensitive to timing issues because he told congress just recently that the decision to make -- to fire comey had been made before he wrote his memo, not after, as trump initially said. but the fact that it is a special prosecutor reminds us that the presidenttilletai the power to fire mueller under the constitution, unlike the independent counsel law passed after watergate and expired after the clinton investigation. the special prosecutor can be fired. of course politically that would be a crazy thing to do. >> can he fire him? he's not the one who chose him, appointed him. i think he probably could tell rosenstein, you fire the special counsel and rosenstein says, no. he said, okay, i fire you, rosenstein. i'm going to make somebody else who will. >> and if he does that he's begging for obstruction of justice charge. >> that would be very unwise to do. i wasn't suggesting he could. the president can't directly fire the special counsel, but he can certainly -- he can attempt to do it that way. am i right or wrong about the
process? >> et presidethe president has ultimate power to fire an official. he can instruct the attorney general or acting attorney general to fire the fbi director and eventually that person will be fired. as we saw during the nixon years when a couple people resigned, eventually president nixon found robert bork to fire the special prosecutor. >> that would be fatal. >> if something is too far for donald trump, that would be too far. >> gentlemen, thank you both. ahead, crisis in the west wing is one of the president's most visible staffers on the way out? new reporting tonight. there's a more enjoyable way to get your fiber.
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the west wing. reports include the president is turning against most of his aides, even his son-in-law jared kushner. official telling politico after president trump's foreign trip that starts tomorrow, sean spicer is no longer expected to do a daily on-camera briefing. the washington post writing the worst job in washington right now is working for trump with mid-level aides starting to contact consultants and shopping their resumes and at least one senior staffer has begun privately talking to friends about a post-white house job. what it would look like. sabrina is a political reporter for the guardian and caitlyn political reporter for real clear politics. first to you, sabrina. number of us go over to the white house all sorts of times talk to different people. i happened to be over there today. everything looked pretty ordinary and normal. then i read these reports. >> well, i think there's no doubt that this has been the worst week of trump's presidency, and this is after he really struggled to get himself off the ground with some of the early weeks being somewhat
chaotic in terms of the travel ban and some of his executive orders drawing a lot of push back. when it comes to working for trump, it doesn't really matter, however, who is in these positions and who is standing behind that podium in the briefing room the problem is th president himself and the fact that he cannot be reined in. when you look at the controversies of this week in particular, it has to do with the president's own conduct, seemingly interfering in comey's investigation, passing classified information potentially to the russians, and no matter who works for him, that's something that they won't be able to remedy. >> you don't have to be a wizard -- these are not, this is not spicer coming out making a mistake. this is spicer coming out, having to defend conduct tha will be very difficult to defend. >> and often not being given the full facts. a good example of what sabrina was talking about was today when the president tweeted that this is a witch hunt. compare that to the statement the white house released on
behalf of donald trump last night which was much more subdued and so-called presidential. so that contrast in plain sight within hours of one another shows how difficult this job is. that it is coming from the president no, matter what the staff is doing. >> what i don't get is why the president keeps taking all this bait. why he is tweeting in the morning. the witch hunt. you know that will cause trouble for him. if he went outside the beltway, he has very passionate supporters. people think that the media is picking on him, for instance. >> one thing we've seen from the very beginning, even from candidate trump, he takes all of this very personally. he is very thin skinned and he was constantly baited even by his opponents in the campaign into making fakes were personal, that were beneath the rhetoric. >> but he has these very passionate supporters who elected him outside the beltway. they will stick with him through thick and thin apparently. >> and i think he is trying to talk to them with this rhetoric
that he's been using. we have to consider people supporting him who wanted to see policy get through. wanted to see some kind of tankible difference in their lives. when they're trying to assess what this means in terms of what they want to see come out of this administration, i think lots of people could argue that it is a distraction. you talk to are people on capitol hill. they are not hopeful, really, of getting much done this year. and then we head into august and then we're in the mid terms. >> i think it is more painful for the members of congress who have to go home to sell it to the districts to say why they aren't legislating. the president said he came to swamp and he's not doing it. he is making it very difficult. is sean spicer staying or going? >> it certainly seems if he is not going to be giving daily briefings after the president's foreign trim as reports indicate, that this is their way of slowly taking him out of the picture. but again, it goes back to the
earlier point. i don't think the next press secretary isn't going to face the same problems. it is not that you can't control trump. they are often not in the loop as to what is happening in the room. sometimes they wake up to these tweets and there's no fixing the job. >> stay with us. and viewers, you may have noticed there's a lot of news happening every single day. miss anything since the morning? we have you covered. can we push the offer online? brian, i just had a quick question. brian? brian... legacy technology can handcuff any company. but "yes" is here. you're saying the new app will go live monday?! yeah. with help from hpe, we can finally work the way we want to. with the right mix of hybrid it, everything computes.
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every day the news zooms by. if you are not online or glued to the phone all day long, you are probably missing it. here's day 119. >> i think everybody, robert mueller has been appointed. >> i think we can now move forward. >> i feel good about it. >> the single greatest witch hunt. >> paul ryan trying to lower the temperature. >> there have been some members who have said we might be better with vice president pence. >> good grief. >> an hr later, minorit leader nancy pelosi trying to keep the heat on. >> it is unruly, undisciplined, unreliable and need some adult assume vision. get some thick skin. >> rod rosenstein behind closed
doors on the firing of director comey. >> everything he said baltimore you need to treat this investigation as if it may be a criminal investigation. >> did you urge fbi director james comey in any way to close or back down the investigation into michael flynn? >> no. next question. >> back with me, part of day, we don't even include that president trump told us today that there is likely, that he is very close to naming an fbi director. >> that was the big talk on capitol hill today. joe lieberman is in the running. democrats are not that excited about it. he only needs a majority of republicans to be confirmed. the feeling on capitol hill is with the appointment of the special prosecutor, this at least calms some tensions for now even though it is a long-term problem for the white house. >> i describe it as putting my head in a blender on high. not even medium. >> the irony is that trump
brought this special counsel on himself through his conduct around the comey firing, trying then impugn his reputation in public which is then drawing all these leaks from associate who's you can imagine are doing it in part to protect comey's name and his record. what this means, as much as the white house says now we can move on, the russia investigation is going to loom over his head for the next months if not years. >> he winds it up. i spoke with, a little bit, are the strike in syria. we don't even get to that stuff. >> that's the fear. if you're a republican member of congress, you are wanting to focus things like health care or tax reform or at least be working on them and have the president be helping with you that. >> the number one line we heard from republicans was we want a drama-free day. the problem is a lot of people don't feel they're -- >> we might get that. we might get tomorrow. tomorrow president leaves a
multination trip and many people in the press corps are chasing and tracking him down, chasing him across the world. thank you for watching. every night at 6:00 p.m. eastern. if you can't watch live, set your dvr or check out my facebook page. i put a whole bunch of new pictures on my facebook page. "hardball" starts right now. trump and denial. let's play "hardball." last night donald trump responded to the news a special counsel had been reported to look into his collusion with russia. that didn't last. this morning he was back to his war by tweet. he wrote, this is single biggest witch hunt of a politician in american history. and withoutny evince he lobbed this attack.